The 9-year-old Black boy who was accused of sexual assault by a white woman dubbed “Cornerstore Caroline” said that moving past the traumatizing incident has been extremely difficult.
In an interview with Good Morning America, Jeremiah Harvey said it was overwhelmingly embarrassing to be accused of touching the woman’s butt.
“It’s still hard because lately on my mind, like, I can’t think nothing but this,” Jeremiah said. “I felt humiliated because of the way she was acting. I started to tear up.”
In a viral video that swept the country, a woman, who was identified as Teresa Klein, accused Jeremiah of grabbing her butt while he shopped in a Brooklyn cornerstore with his mother. Surveillance footage later revealed his backpack grazed Klein when he exited the store.
Jeremiah’s mother, Someko Bellille, sat with him during the GMA interview and said the incident was immediately difficult because Klein “made it about race right away.”
“She’s on the phone and she’s saying that I’m a white woman, that I’m standing in front of this deli … stating that this Black mom and her two Black kids are out here and that the son sexually assaulted me,” Bellille recalled Friday. “She said, ‘Black child, Black mother and white woman.’
“His innocence was taken for granted,” she added.
Jeremiah added that he cried out of fear that he or his mom would be taken away by police.
Bellille expressed concern that the incident has permanently scarred her son.
“It was devastating for him,” she said, “because even after walking away, he was pointing to, you know, patrol cars on Flatbush Avenue and saying, ‘Mommy, are they here to take you away from us?'”
Bellille said she struggled to explain the incident to her children.
“To be having a conversation with your son about sexual assault at the age of 9, I never thought I’d be having this conversation,” she told GMA.
“That fear that was placed in your heart,” she added, turning toward Jeremiah, “it is going to be replaced with something great. You’re gonna be an example for other children.”
“This is going to take some time. It’s going to take a lot of healing,” she said.